Seattle police chief nominee speaks about recent violence

SEATTLE -- The City of Seattle's Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology committee held a public hearing in South Seattle Wednesday on the proposed hiring of Kathleen O'Toole as the city's next police chief.

O'Toole, the former Commissioner of the Boston Police Department, was nominated last month to become Seattle's top cop.

The southern neighborhoods of Seattle have seen a recent uptick in violent and fatal crimes.

"I think people are concerned about crime and quality of life issue, and rightfully so. It's been a difficult few weeks," O'Toole said to the news media after the hearing was over.

Residents presented their concerns and questions about how she plans to help decrease crime. Louis and Carolyn Brown say they worry about whether police officers are nervous about performing their duties due to the federal oversight of the department.

That oversight is due to what federal authorities determined was overuse of force by some members of the police department.

The Browns also worry about the recent violence in their neighborhood and said O'Toole must be aware of it.

"I'm sure she's been in town long enough to know what's going on. So I want to know if she's formulated any type of a plan," Mr. Brown said.

O'Toole said she's aware of the ongoing violence and wants to implement plans to halt it.

"I think it's important to develop a plan for each neighborhood of the city -- a specific plan for each neighborhood of the city -- particularly those neighborhoods facing the biggest challenges right now," she said.

The former commissioner also said she believes in creating programs that build skills and confidence in children. That, she believes, is one method of keeping kids from taking a path of crime.

The Public Safety Committee will vote Thursday and the full city council will vote June 23.